Coming to you in a joint effort of Ulysses, Fingerguns and UtilityCookie, we will try to shine a light on how to play the ultimate badasses of MCP, Black Order. If you like to win by absolutely dominating the opponent and showing them who’s boss, Black Order is the right affiliation for you. Black Order does not care how many points your opponents’ models cost or which models they are. Are you tired of facing Angela and her running away? Are you sick of Enchantress stealing your stuff? Do you just hate M.O.D.O.K? Come join the Order and watch them fall.
Selecting Your 10 Characters for a Black Order Roster
Characters in a BO roster have to do work. We’re here to leverage attrition into VPs, allowing the potential for two paths to victory. We tend to run gems over role players. Also, we need the dice to stay with us, so we need dice mods and boosts wherever we can find them. As discussed in Chapter 1, Black Order rosters are generally built around the 15-threat core of Thanos with the Mind Gem, Corvus with the Reality Gem, and Proxima. For most threat values, characters and/or gems are added to this core. The glaring exception is 14-threat, which, since it is one threat lower than the normal Black Order core, requires more drastic changes to your squad.
Thanos and the Mind gem
The most expensive model you can run to date is a gemmed-up Thanos. He, along with Corvus, is the foundation of your Black Order list. He brings buffs in the form of adding dice with Death’s Decree, and, on his injured side, his leadership swaps from bonus VPs to rerolls on attacks. He is an excellent control piece with Cosmic Portal, allowing you to place friends and foes alike. With the mind gem on top of that, Thanos becomes one of the best control pieces in the game. On his healthy side, he brings a leadership that lets you score VPs for K.O.s. Once Thanos is injured, he loses his portals and the VP scoring, but gains a leadership that allows your characters to reroll up to three dice during an attack at the cost of one damage per rerolled dice. Late game, this can be used to get that last damage to daze or K.O. your opponent’s remaining models. Lastly, his power is so immense that he can wield up to two infinity gems, which he uses for free, and reduces damage from enemy effects by one to a minimum of zero, which makes him pretty tanky!
Corvus and the Reality gem
If we are talking about pure damage consistency there is one model who is on top, Corvus with a reality gem. When Corvus attacks under glaive’s edge he has a seven in eight chance to roll a success while two of those results can count as crits. After you roll a skull the remaining dice have a six in eight chance to roll a success. That is some efficient dice rolling! With Thanos adding more dice to those amazing attacks with Death’s Decree, you will be one-shotting most models in the game. Using this on Corvus’s strike, which can pierce on a wild trigger, will also keep him flush with power. His Deathblow attack lets him advance M after the attack is resolved and has a wild flurry trigger, which will grant him a free strike that can be used before or after the M move. Unless you need the movement or potential extra attack from Death Blow, it is often better to prioritise a Glaive’s Edge strike with Death’s Decree over an unboosted Deathblow. This will often just straight up oneshot a model, the power you gain off this strike might even set up a Glaive’s Edge Deathblow. You want to keep this train rolling every round. Corvus also reduces damage taken from enemy effects by one to a minimum of one. Lastly, he brings the husband part of the husband and wife combo. This superpower will let you activate Proxima directly after him, in the same turn that he activated. This is great for some extra killing power and priority control.
While Thanos and Corvus keep themselves busy with controlling the board by removing and displacing models, Proxima runs around grabbing extracts and paying for your tactics cards. She is a long mover that gets around the board fast when needed, but, a lot of the time, she will sit on a secure while holding an extract. Like Corvus, her strike also has a wild pierce trigger, so she can deal some damage and generate power using it. Besides her strike, she also brings a range 3 energy attack that requires her to place within range 1 of the target. This, combined with her L move, can get her places, while also dealing damage at the same time. She also brings the wife part of the husband and wife combo, which lets you activate Corvus directly after Proxima, in the same turn that she activated. Coupling this combo with good placement and some team tactics cards can allow for huge game-defining plays (more on that is Chapter 3 and Chapter 5). She is pretty tanky for a 3-threat character, having the same damage reduction as Corvus and the ability to spend two power to roll five defense dice if attacked from within range 2.
For many threat levels, adding additional gems to the core of the roster can be helpful.
Time – 2 threat
After the Mind and Reality Gems, the Time Gem is the gem that we most often find ourselves adding to a Black Order roster. As discussed in the crisis selection section, giving Thanos the Time Gem enables a lot of crisis-based plays. It can also enable plays that can hard punish your opponents aggressive moves (more on that later when we discuss turn one plays in Chapter 5). Enabling these types of plays can, in many situations, be more beneficial than having a 2-threat character in the squad. The Time Gem also gives Thanos the ability to attack three times during an activation, increasing his ability to do damage.The Time Gem is commonly taken at 17, 19, and 20 threat. It can also be taken at 14 threat, along with Thanos, the Mind Gem, Corvus, and the Reality Gem, against opponents that have priority and can bring a three activation squad, such as Asgard, A-Force, and Sin-led Cabal.
Power – 1 threat
If you’re running the Time Gem, the Power Gem should be on your radar. The Power Gem lets you hit 16 threat without feeling like you’re giving something up or playing a point down. By giving Thanos two extra power a round, the Power Gem is basically a guaranteed Death’s Decree or Cosmic Portal. Running both the Mind and Power Gems, gives you the potential for three guaranteed displacement effects from Thanos a turn.
Soul – 1 threat
The Soul Gem is another 1-threat power granting gem. While the Power Gem is a sure thing, the Soul Gem presents a sort of prisoner’s dilemma to your opponent. This means that the Soul Gem allows your opponent to decide which option, giving Thanos a power or using a superpower, is best for them and worse for you. While Soul may generate more than two power a turn, how much it makes is ultimately up to your opponent. Forcing this decision on opponents can have diminishing returns at higher levels of play.
Space – 2 threat
For 2 threat, the Space Gem can give Thanos a range 2 place for himself or an ally without spending power. In a Black Order roster, the Space Gem is often crowded out by either the Power Gem or the Time Gem. The two extra power from the Power Gem enables a healthy Thanos to place allies within range 2 using Cosmic Portal, not to mention giving Thanos the option of using that power for Death’s Decree. If you are willing to spend 2 threat on a gem, the Time Gem is often the better pick, since it gives Thanos the flexibility of choosing between additional mobility or another attack.
How do I account for different threat values in roster creation?
Once you have selected the gems that you want to take, it is time to fill out the rest of your roster. If you have chosen to just take the Black Order core with no other gems, you will need a plan for 14 and 16, a 2-threat for 17, a 3-threat for 18, a 4-threat for 19, and a 5-threat for 20, leaving space for one more “flex” or flavor pick. If you are taking the Power and Time Gems, you will still want: (a) a 2-threat option for 17, (b) 2-, 3- and possibly a 4-threat option for 18, (c) a 2-, 3- or 4-threat option for 19, and (d) a 3-, 4- or 5-threat option for 20. This leaves only three spots left to fill out the roster. .
With a 15-threat core, the 14-threat list requires some sacrifice, and unless you’re running a third 1-threat gem, 16 threat also requires you to change things up from the core, or play a point down.
There are a couple different squads that work at 14. One option is to run Thanos with the Mind Gem, Corvus with the Reality Gem and a 2-threat. This setup can run into problems when facing a three activation squad that has priority. One option for dealing with this is to run Thanos with the Mind and Time Gems and Corvus with the Reality Gem. Another option is to run leaderless Black Order and take Corvus with the Reality Gem, Proxima, and a 6-threat, which allows you to use the husband and wife combo to steal priority. If played against an opponent with three characters, the leadership is at most worth three V.P.s, and, if you get that many V.P.s, you have already won. This means that getting priority and being able to remove one of your opponent’s key models before it can activate in round two can be more valuable than Thanos’s leadership in this very specific situation. Another option is to play a second affiliation to use at 14 (more on this later).
16 threat can be another tight spot if you’re not running the Power or Soul Gem, and is another threat where a second affiliation can be helpful. If you have the Power Gem, or the Soul Gem and a generous or carefree opponent, that and Thanos’s immunity to stun should keep him flush if you’re forced to play 16 threat on the Fisk secure. Without access to a third 1-threat gem, you’re stuck making hard decisions about what to cut to swap in and out for 16.
Continuing the trend of problematic, even point values, 18 threat puts Black Order on Hammers, Mutant Madman, or Spider Portals, likely without priority. 18 threat is one of the few spots where bringing a non-core 4-threat character can pay off. Time Thanos can grab two hammers on turn one, but what does it cost? Everything. To run Mind + Time Thanos at 18, you either lose access to the husband and wife combo to run a 4-threat character, or play a point down. (More details on these options and what they each bring can be found in our review of the non-core four threat characters that merit consideration on a Black Order roster.)
Since we are playing Black Order, the first characters we will look at are the non-core Black Order characters.
Black Dwarf – 4 threat
Black Dwarf has value and can help with affiliation, but brings a lot of liability to the squad. His size might compel you into running brace over other restricted list choices, where as, without him, Black Order prefers other restricted cards (more on that in Chapter 3). His lack of movement tricks and S move make him quite weak to control. He is also power hungry. These issues often mean that Black Dwarf is left at home.
Ebony Maw – 5 threat or 6 threat with the Mind Gem
Maw is a much maligned character, particularly when compared to M.O.D.O.K (who we will discuss later). A lot of that comes down to his difficulty in generating power and not having guaranteed control abilities. Taking the Mind Gem with Maw can help with these issues, but it then often feels that you are paying 6 threat for setup that should be 5 threat. Despite this, the 6 threat setup can be used with Corvus with the Reality Gem and Proxima to play leaderless Black Order at 14. Bringing Maw in that situation can enable unique tactics card-based plays using Mothership and Shhh… (more on those cards in Chapter 3). Outside of that situation, there are usually much better options than Maw.
Due to the limited amount and the high threat values of Black Order characters, you will need to look to unaffiliated characters to fully flesh out the roster.
Okoye, Toad, Wong, Nebula, et al. – 2 threat
There are quite a few good options for 2-threats. Okoye is widely considered the best 2-threat, bringing good defensive abilities with a reroll and bodyguard, and reasonable offensive capabilities when loaded with power. Toad brings great extract control. Slippery makes it so that it can be difficult to get an extract off of him. He can also take extracts off of Black Order’s more playmaking characters, which enables them to be played more aggressively. Wong is a great support piece. His healing has added value due to the damage negation that Black Order characters have. He is particularly good at 19 on Demons, since he can sit on the back secure while healing and removing the incinerate status from your other characters. Thanos’s 2-threat daughter, Nebula, plays into Black Order’s aggressive gameplan. She is an offensively focused character who’s rerolls synergize well with Thanos’ Death Decree. Nebula is particularly good at 19 threat on Demons, since Nebula likes attacking an incinerated target that is on a secure. One 2-threat character is pretty much always taken in a Black Order roster, and it is not uncommon to take two 2-threat characters for added squad building flexibility. While these four characters are the most popular 2-threats for Black Order, there are other options. Bob makes an interesting addition to a Black Order roster but remains an unproven commodity. Rocket is not without his own merits, but tends to lag behind the other options.
Baron Zemo, Valkyrie, Shuri, Mystique, and Domino – 3 threat
As with the 2-threats, there are several good options for unaffiliated 3-threats for Black Order. Baron Zemo synergizes extremely well with the Black Order core and game plan. He grants rerolls to allied characters with range 2 of him, increasing the consistency of the attacks of himself and your other characters. His Master Swordsman superpower, which grants full rerolls, pairs amazingly well with the added dice from Thanos’ Death’s Decree and gives a triple activation Thanos a reroll on all his attacks for some added value. Valkyrie also has reasonable offensive power and can personally benefit from the additional dice from Thanos. By selecting Valkyrie, however, you trade off giving rerolls to your Black Order characters for added control from her throw. Shuri does not have the up-close and personal offensive capabilities that Baron Zemo and Valkyrie have, but she does have long range control and the ability to give other allied characters rerolls. Another 3-threat option is Mystique. With Deception, she can play into the gameplan of Black Order by bringing enemy characters into the threat range of your other characters. This does come at the cost of a tactics card slot. Outside of this one-time-use play, Mystique does not bring the utility of the other 3-threat characters, so, outside of a dual affiliation with Brotherhood, she may not always be the best option. Domino is another 3-threat that can have a place in a Black Order roster. She primarily brings personal damage output and dice fixing. However, her dice fixing does not synergize as well with additional dice compared to characters like Baron Zemo. Domino does bring a little utility, since she can use one of her spender attacks to automatically incernerate a target. This can be used to set that target up for your other characters to deal with it.
Loki, Kingpin, Black Panther, Enchantress, and Medusa – 4 threat
The 4 threat spot is a bit of a corner case that can be real strong if chosen in the right matchup. You can take a 4-threat over Proxima at 18 threat, running Thanos with the Mind and Time Gems, Corvus with the Reality Gem, and a 4-threat character. You can also take a 4-threat at 19 threat, atop the 15 threat core. The 19-threat setup can be easily scaled to 20 threat by adding the Power Gem. The 4 cost you are using has to be a workhorse. A few models come to mind. First we have Loki, like Corvus he can count blanks on his attacks, brings a mystic attack and can be a good extract holder because of trickster. He can do a bit of both in the roles that Corvus and proxima fulfill. A Death’s Decreed strike with I am a God! followed by an Illusions under I am a God! Does a lot to the enemy team. He also brings his power taxing aura and, on his injured side, the no crits aura. Both help to keep your other models in the game longer. Next up is Black Panther, a tanky, L mover who can get full rerolls on all his attacks. Like Loki he can bring a bit of both worlds to the table, albeit in a different form. Kingpin doesn’t have the mobility of Panther or any dice fixing, but he does have above average health and physical defense, damage reduction, a medium throw and easy access to stagger. Kingpin is a power piece and when played under the Black Order’s banner, there’s no compulsion to preserve him to keep his leadership in play. If he had hair, he’d let it down and go all out. Amora, the Enchantress may be the strongest 4-threat character in Marvel Crisis Protocol, at least for the first few turns. Her kit of beams, bows and the ability to steal objectives without dazing or KO’ing is strong by itself. Her bow makes her another activation that can help to set up the Corvus kill-box, and death’s decree increases the odds of hitting the triggers for her spender. Enchantress is a change-up piece, who probably doesn’t fit with the team as well as the others. However, her unique kit means she almost always has a way to contribute, and is a powerful character threat under any leadership. Medusa is another best-in-class four threat option. Her any-direction push on damage, wild flurry, range 3 throw and team reposition makes a strong case for inclusion in a somewhat tight niche.
4-Threat Characters on 18-Threat Crises
As one of the major use cases of non-core 4-threats is dealing with the 18-threat conundrum of “How do I play Thanos with the Mind and Time Gems at 18 threat?”, you’re looking for a body to balance the seemingly disparate demands of this question.
On paper, simply bringing an S tier answer like Panther or Medusa may be the easy call; just don’t let your choice here muddy the waters on the rest of the overall plan. Black Panther brings a full kit for the flip crises. Medusa loves hammers, but, other than giggling about calling a Thanos Corvus Medusa squad “wife swap”, it seems sad to have Medusa on a roster where she only fills such a niche role, especially considering she brings next-to-nothing extra to a game on Spider Portals or Mutant Madman.
Moving past two of the best characters in the game, Loki brings some solid answers to the question. As an Asgardian, he generates an extra power which is especially helpful on Spider Portals and Mutant Madman; for Hammers, he gets extra dice for his I am a god attacks; his “Root” tax dovetails nicely with the crisis’s tactics tax and his ability to get away from a Hammer shot to the face with Trickster shouldn’t be overlooked. As another Mind gem bearer, Loki also brings some interesting flexibility to other point values and crises. Enchantress is another viable option, though her value is quite mixed. She can steal the single extracts we prefer but while she generates that extra Asgardian power, she only rolls two dice if she has to flip a portal herself. Her beam gets a huge boon from a Hammer or two, but more dice coming at her can also mean she melts even faster than usual in the late game. Kingpin is another strong four threat character to run with BO, but he brings next to nothing on the D shape. Of the 18 threat crises, Kingpin’s value is highest on Hammers because he’s great on all our secures and who doesn’t love a hammer? He is a decent choice for Mutant Madman, but with his short move, he may be the weakest of these options for slotting in on Spider Portals.
On another note, there is also an affiliated option in Black Dwarf. Black Dwarf has good round one synergy with the D shape. His base size allows him to interact with a portal or pick up a hammer without moving but he struggles to get from point to point on Spider Portals, or cross the dead zone between columns on Mutant Madman. Additionally, as the flip secures promote a scrum and require constant movement, his size, speed and lack of a true charge are as much a liability as ever. These issues aside, his affiliated status puts Mothership in play – reducing the mobility issue and opening up some interesting options for repositioning the lumbering giant. Black Dwarf’s large base also makes a generous landing pad for Corvus on Mothership plays going the other way and, with a little effort, causes problems on the secures by blocking off an opponent’s access.
M.O.D.O.K, Scarlet Witch, and Magneto – 5+ threat
At 5 threat, M.O.D.O.K brings it all. He has great defensive abilities with his wild negation granting him immunity to the vast majority of wild triggers, and access to defensive rerolls. He has great offensive abilities with a long range mystic build, an AoE physical spender, a great throw, and attack rerolls. He also has a great control superpower in Bow to the Will of M.O.D.O.K. In Black Order, he is most commonly taken at 20 threat, along with the Black Order core. This makes your opponent have to try and deal with him, Corvus, and Thanos, which can be a tall order for some squads. Scarlet Witch also comes in at 5-threat. She, like many of the other highlighted characters, brings quality of dice to the table, which means that she synergizes well with Death’s Decree. She does this by counting skulls as successes. She also has a mystic attack, something that the core is lacking, and brings conditions to the table in the form of hex and incinerate. At 6 threat, Magneto brings even more offensive power to use when following Black Order’s gameplan. His builder attack gives some control to the Black Order list if the target is within range 3, but outside of range 2. If the target is within range two, the rerolls on the builder synergize extremely well with additional dice from Thanos’ Death’s Decree. Magneto’s throws then allow him to use all of the power he has generated to do even more damage. Magneto can be played at quite a few threat levels, but his inclusion inhibits playing the full Black Order core. He can be played at 14 threat with Corvus with the Reality Gem and Proxima, 18 threat with Thanos with the Mind Gem and Corvus with the Reality Gem, and 20 threat by adding a 2-threat character or the Time Gem to the previously mentioned 18-threat squad. Scarlet Witch and Magneto become even more appealing if you are planning on building a dual affiliation roster.
A lot of this article has focused on playing mono-affiliation Black Order. That is, however, not the only option. Using the roster slots not taken up by the Black Order core, and any additional gems, to enable your roster to play another affiliation can cover some of the weaknesses of Black Order. Currently, two of the best dual affiliation options, but far from the only options, are Brotherhood and Wakanda.
Brotherhood of Mutants
By including Magneto, Scarlet Witch, Mystique, and Toad (all strong characters that could be included in a mono-affiliation Black Order roster) with the Black Order core, you have access to strong Brotherhood squads at 14 and 16 threat, two of Black Order’s weakest threats. It also gives you the option of bringing a Brotherhood squad that plays similarly to Black Order’s game plan by playing Thanos with the Mind and Time Gems, Magneto, and Mystique at 18 threat.
By including Black Panther, Shuri, and Okoye (all strong characters that could be included in a mono-affiliation Black Order roster) with the Black Order core, you have access to strong Wakana squads at 14, 15, 16, and 17. Having these options allows you to pivot to a strong control game, instead of playing the attrition style preferred by Black Order. At 14, you can take Black Panther, Shuri, Okoye, and Corvus with the Reality Gem. At 15, you can take Black Panther, Shuri, Okoye, Proxima, and a 3-threat character. This 3-threat is often Valkyrie, whose throw allows for even more control options. 16 is fun because you can play the three Wakandans and Thanos with the Mind Gem. At 17, you can just add the Reality Gem to the 16 threat squad, resulting in an ultra tanky Thanos that has access to Wakandan rerolls. At 18, you can replace the Reality Gem with the Time Gem, although this is probably relatively weaker than the 17 threat version.
Since the game is always evolving and new releases are coming to us almost every month a lot can change. So for future releases you want to be on the lookout for the following.
A new 2 cost should always be a model that is useful as an extract holder, preferably has ranged support and thus can sit on a back secure.
A new 3 cost should be offensive, preferably has the quality of dice to get extra benefit from Death’s Decree.
A new 4 cost should be offensive and rather tanky while also having high quality of dice to gain increased benefit from Death’s Decree.
A new 5 should be able to beat out M.O.D.O.K and Scarlet Witch.
A new 6+ threat has to be such a powerhouse that this model can take the place of Thanos and makes it worth it to run Black Order without a leadership at lower threat levels or, along with a 3-threat, effectively replace Corvus and Proxima at 18.
Once you have made your selections for the characters/gems that you want to pair with the Black Order core. It is time to finish off the roster by selecting your tactics cards. So, stay tuned for the next exciting chapter of Oh Snap!: The Thanos Thesis.
Missed the first article? You can find it here: